The 20th July marks 50 years since we first put man on the moon. While many thought we might have perfected space tourism by now (come on Branson!), the anniversary of this momentous occasion has got us thinking about some of the stunning lunar-like landscapes on our own planet. From bubbling geysers to arid deserts and salty pans to unique rock formations, visiting these destinations will feel like you've stepped out of your own spaceship, ready to make 'one giant leap for mankind'.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. A vast glittering white expanse, the area covers more than 4,000 square miles and is actually the dried bed of a huge lake. When rain falls, the layer of water settled on the salt’s surface perfectly reflects the sky, making the flats look even more stunning.
You’ll notice a remarkable contrast of colours at Namibia’s Deadvlei. Burnt orange sand dunes meet a stark white clay pan which is populated with dead camel thorn trees, which have turned coal black. Due to the dry climate the trees have not decomposed and their eerie presence makes for a totally unique landscape.
Waiotapu, New Zealand
Just north of New Zealand's popular town of Rotorua is the active geothermal area of Waiotapu. Here you’ll find bubbling and brightly coloured pools, thick sulphur mud baths and explosive geysers. Beware, though the area certainly looks very cool, the sulphur-rich air doesn’t smell quite as good…
Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote, Spain
The volcanic Canary Islands are known for their dramatic scenery but nowhere on the islands is more lunar-like than the fantastical Timanfaya National Park. With a sea of dormant black and burnt orange volcanoes peppering a quarter of the island, this huge landscape is a must visit on any holiday to Lanzarote.
Cerro Negro, Nicaragua
It’s not every day that you can hike to the rim of an active volcano crater, but that’s exactly what you’ll find yourself doing at Nicaragua’s Cerro Negro. When you’ve peered into the smoking abyss, return to the bottom by sandboarding down the black volcanic sand slopes.
Canyon Point, USA
Stay at the luxurious Amangiri in the heart of the Canyon Point area at the border of Utah and Arizona and find yourself surrounded by huge boulders and incredible rock formations. Hike the Hoodoo trail past sandstone towers and sand dunes; visit the iconic Grand Canyon (which is just over two hours away); and sail along the turquoise waters of Lake Powell.
Dead Sea, Jordan
At 431m below sea level Jordan’s Dead Sea (actually a lake!) marks the world’s most low-lying spot and is a fascinating and ethereal landscape. The sea’s rich mineral and salts content means swimmers will find themselves floating almost on the surface and then emerging with skin glowing from the water’s healing properties.
The so-called fairy chimneys of Cappadocia are not just strikingly beautiful natural rock formations, but also intricately carved ancient monastic communities. As the sun rises, take a hot air balloon ride over the rocks, and then when you come back down to Earth, explore inside the rock caves come houses and luxury hotels.